December 12, 2016

Watch: ARRI’s Best HDR Cinematography of the Decade Will Make You Want to Shoot Right Now

ARRI Camerimage
ARRI’s latest reel showcases why so many Camerimage winners chose to use its cameras.

Poland’s Camerimage is the preeminent global cinematography event, and its 24th festival last month was pretty much dominated by ARRI cameras. More than three-quarters of the films in competition were shot with ARRI products; the top prize winner was cinematographer Greig Fraser, who filmed Garth Davis’s Lion with Alexa XTs. ARRI shooters took the second and third prizes as well—​Bradford Young for Denis Villeneuve's Arrival and Anthony Dod Mantle for Oliver Stone’s Snowden, both of whom used the Alexa system.

ARRI has now released an extended version of the reel that they showed at Camerimage, which highlights some of the best High Dynamic Range (HDR) footage captured since the company’s Alexa system launched in 2010. Although HDR is only recently becoming commercially available as a viewing format, ARRI claims that all images captured with Alexa since its launch are “technically HDR, and can easily be prepared for HDR delivery by undertaking an HDR color grade of the original ARRIRAW or Log C material.”

Cinematographers are enamored with HDR’s ability to display more vivid colors, highlights, and richer shadows. Though the video provides no details about which cameras shot which scenes, its stunning landscapes, detailed actions, low-light interiors, glamorous product shots, and cinematic close-ups make us want to get out in the field and create gorgeous images immediately.

Do you shoot with any of the ARRI cameras? What do you find are their pros and cons?      

Your Comment

19 Comments

This kind of marketing fluff really annoys me. 35mm film captures "HDR" as can any camera that can do 10-bit or higher raw/log with a decent dynamic range. HDR really amounts to higher luminosity, wider color gamut/bit-depth, and new transfer functions. Film and digital sensors with good latitude and raw or good log codec will generally exceed these requirements (and have for a long time). HDR is much more about post and display, than acquisition. Consequently, Alexa isn't special when it comes to HDR.

Despite the marketing it's not about gear, it's about how to better tell your story when unshackled from the creative bounds of SDR's lower brightness and smaller color gamut/bit depth.

December 12, 2016 at 6:14PM

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Todd Takehana
Writer/Director
98

Alexa's latitude is in a class of its own.

Marketing is a necessity.

December 12, 2016 at 7:20PM, Edited December 12, 7:20PM

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Andrew Kierans
Digital Cinema Technician
125

If Alexa latitude was in a class of itself it wouldn't need marketing. Alexa sensor has about 14 stops of latitude, not too different from Kodak Vision 3 35mm film. Red Dragon and Helium sensors are beyond that. Any of them are plenty good for HDR. Alexa's main selling points are the Arri ecosystem of products, its now broad usage from acquisition through post, and its extremely good color science. Latitude isn't what makes it stand out

December 12, 2016 at 11:32PM

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Todd Takehana
Writer/Director
98

Lattitude has always been one of the main reasons why people have been using this camera since 2010. Until recently, nothing but film could top it. Red was about 2 stops behind and still to this day can't handle highlights as well. This is a display of "digital excellence" and the fact you keep comparing it to film, makes it the clear winner. Sometimes you need that latitude and range to tell your story as well. There could be a specific shot you couldn't get with a lesser camera and would lack the detail and beauty you desired to obtain.

Everybody markets. Arri is just now putting something like this out as more of a bragging right. The industry picked up on the Alexa quite fast and it's been the go to ever since due to word of mouth from the professionals who got their hands on them and used them in real movie conditions. They didn't need marketing but that doesn't mean they shouldn't market to appeal to a wider audience and perhaps someone looking for spectacular HDR that holds highlights like film. There are HDR TV's, 4k, etc that people are just now obtaining. Again, comparing to film which is a bit obsolete unless you're at the highest level. Arri is appealing to all budgets now as it's much easier to just rent an Alexa and edit pro res. This video is pure visual beauty and meant to showcase and inspire. Just be happy we are where we are and have such capable tools.

December 13, 2016 at 1:26AM, Edited December 13, 1:28AM

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Brad Watts
Filmmaker/Creative Director - Redd Pen Media
266

You're exactly right. We have great tools to work with. Cameras have become so capable that they're becoming the new "film stock." You can now choose what fits your creative direction. Max Mad used nearly every camera out there from BMCC to Alexas. Deakins used A7s's for nightvision in Sicario. Wonderful that you can have 400k ISO and 13.5 stops on a mirrorless camera. So I am very happy that we live with so many incredible options to enable our creativity

December 13, 2016 at 4:42PM

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Todd Takehana
Writer/Director
98

Dude Im sorry, both RED sensors are still not on par with Alexa's DR. The helium doesn't do much better than the Dragon, in fact been seeing some nasty issues with bokeh and clipped highlights. http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?150961-Helium-weird-bokeh-cl...(RED-tech-please-look-at-this)&p=1683808&viewfull=1

Here's a little comparison one company did.
https://vimeo.com/140441330https://vimeo.com/140441330

You can see Alexa still beats the RED in real world tests in highlights and shadows. There's many other reasons people choose Arri over RED. Sensor refresh rate, low noise floor, and color response are some examples

Both still do not match film highlight falloff or pulling over exposure shots.

December 13, 2016 at 3:21AM

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The point of my original comment is that whether it's an Alexa, an A7s, or 35mm film, HDR acquisition has been here for a long time and Arri isn't in a league of their own.

It's all about creative choice. The Alexa has nice highlight rolloff and great color, no doubt. Red Helium has very clean shadows. Alex is measuring about 14.5 stops on a DSC Xyla 21. The Red at least as much (http://www.reduser.net/forum/showthread.php?149166-Weapon-cf-vs-Helium-X...). The technicalities miss the point. It's about the look and what you can do with it.

So what do you want to do creatively? David Fincher loves the Red, and others swear by the Alexa, Nolan and Pfister are loyal to film. For me, I've shot on Red, Alexa, Sony, etc. For me it all depends on the project. Heck, I'd love to do a project on 16mm. Black Swan looks great.

Until someone comes out with a camera that has 20+ stops with clean high ISO and great highlight rolloff, we have tons of great options out there, and the all can produce amazing HDR.

In that way it's exciting times. You can't blame the camera, regardless of which you choose. Arri's marketing video is a testament to the amazing talent of the photographers, rather than that their tech is better than film or Red or whatever.

December 13, 2016 at 4:57PM

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Todd Takehana
Writer/Director
98

I was correcting what you said about Alexa and RED. Though many other cinematographers, filmmakers, and myself believe Arri is definitely in a league of their own in digital HDR acquisition. Even Guillermo Del Toro and Ridley Scott, two RED guys switched to Alexa. In your reduser link, I did not see any Alexa comparison. Watch the camera comparison I sent https://vimeo.com/140441330. You will once again see real world differences in performance. Be careful also with reduser, a lot of their stuff is definitely biased, sometimes helpful, but a majority of the time owners trying to make their cameras look like the best investment ever. Hope this helps you

December 13, 2016 at 11:48PM

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I'm not looking at this marketing as the new moniker for HDR, but rather, what it's always stood for, high dynamic range, or simply, latitude.

I'm not nearly as versed as many of you in the real world (never have shot on anything greater than a c100mkII) but I have read some material talking about WHERE the latitude is and it seems the Alexa's latitude sits in the highlights where no other camera can seem to reach just yet. If no other camera can retain the same highlights as the Alexa, doesn't it warrant saying it's in a league of it's own?

December 14, 2016 at 8:26PM, Edited December 14, 8:27PM

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This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen.

December 12, 2016 at 8:28PM

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Walter Wallace
Spokesperson/Entrepreneur
592

Still the best sensor on the market, there's no question. Crazy how they managed to figure it out 6+ years ago and everyone else has still been playing catch-up (and not really succeeding in matching the range in the highlights). Arri cameras have plenty of disadvantages, mostly having to do with price, weight and size (only disadvantages at a certain budget level of course), but there's no arguing that the sensor is at the top of the game.

December 12, 2016 at 11:16PM, Edited December 12, 11:16PM

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Oren Soffer
Director of Photography
1898

My dream scenario would be Alexa color science with a Red sensor (and Red price). Then you have that wonderful creamy look that we love plus enough resolution to finish in 4K and all of the niceties that come with having extra pixels in post.

December 12, 2016 at 11:35PM

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Todd Takehana
Writer/Director
98

Sadly, the two are mutually exclusive - that color science and accuracy - and a camera built to ensure the optimal performance of the sensor - naturally drives up the price. Maybe one day we will have it all. But it is not this day!

December 13, 2016 at 1:31AM

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Oren Soffer
Director of Photography
1898

You know if resolution is your thing Panasonic Varicam 35 exist. (if you want to buy) or https://www.arri.com/uploads/pics/b_ALEXA-65_1.jpg (if you want to rent for $10,000 a day which is as much as a Scarlet-W body, but why buy a Scarlet-W when you can get about 90% in cheaper cameras buy Sony, Panasonic, Canon)

December 13, 2016 at 3:28AM

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Price, yeah I can agree but it's the best of the best. Should everyone have them?No, they are the Lamborghini of cameras. Weight? Size? Alexa M? Alexa mini?That solves that issue and still can shoot 4:3 and RAW internal, can be steadicam/gimbal/drone opped and still shoulder rigged if need be. Also many guys like the weight and ergonomics of the Alexa full size, XT, etc because it's similar to a film camera and to get that cinematic movement and feel it needs the weight. It removes vibrations and rolling shutter artifacts, of course combined with a good sensor.

December 13, 2016 at 1:33AM, Edited December 13, 1:33AM

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Brad Watts
Filmmaker/Creative Director - Redd Pen Media
266

The Alexa Studio SXT is probs for the filmmakers wanting weight and ergonomics. That thing is phenomenal

December 13, 2016 at 11:50PM

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December 13, 2016 at 5:58AM

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Not to waste people's time but does anyone know the name or group from the music on this video. It's amazing!

December 16, 2016 at 8:32PM

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What song is in the video?

December 18, 2016 at 4:20PM

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